Nationals Baseball: Gotta be in it to win it

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Gotta be in it to win it

And the Nats are in it. 

I have to admit, yesterday was a day that tried my patience.  First up there was the vitriol aimed at Bryce turning yesterday more into Bryce elimination day than Nats get in day, that I just don't get. I get disliking guys, and I get disliking opponents, and I get not wanting Bryce to immediately go and get the success that he and the Nats never got here, but hating someone you supposedly liked before? I get hating guys you never liked who happened to play on your team (Hey Jeremy Shockey just walked in) - so maybe that's it. But it seemed like there was honest affection toward Bryce before last year. I mean, as usual, I'll say to each his own, but the whole thing has me looking at a lot of Nats fans like petty exes who won't get over someone that broke their hearts.

This then led to the odd "is Bryce to blame for the Phillies losing" convo which is probably not the right conversation to have about a team that tried to mediocre bullpen their way to a win in a must-win scenario. I mean Bryce has some blame but if we portion it individually he probably doesn't make the Top 10 issues for the Phillies.

THEN there was after the win the notion that the Nats getting the Wild Card after the lousy start was somehow validation in front of people who "didn't believe in them" that they were a great team. This is ignoring the fact that the 19-31 start did happen (that's bad! You shouldn't do that!) and that the Wild Card was a Plan B for a team that wanted to win the East and that everyone did believe in the Nats to start the year (over 50% picked them to win East remember) and that "no one believed in us" is the lamest of lame tropes teams pull out that can honestly be used by the Braves (no one picked us) or the Cards (no one picked us!) or the Brewers (people wrote us off after Yelich went down) or the Rays (no one thinks about Tampa) or the A's (no one thinks about Oakland either) or the Indians (people wrote us off as not trying to win) or the Twins (people liked the Indians better) and maybe even the Yankees (people thought the injuries would stop us). 


Basically it was an emotional day and this soulless automaton hates emotional days because there's so much that doesn't make sense we just go along with.

But the Nats win! And the Nats are in! and while we talk about post-season roster decisions there really is only one huge one that matters.  Who starts the Wild Card game? If we are matching up just based on who's turn it would be that would be Sanchez.  If you go by days of rest, it's Strasburg. But you can still work it to be anyone.

I've said for a few weeks I would just go with the hottest of the three starters right now. Max, Stras, or Corbin are all #1 material and you shouldn't bicker about who is more ace like in theory but go with who's pitching more ace like in practice.

Max - he's the least ace like recently. He's gone 

Strasburg - early September was ok, but not the shutdown pitcher you like to see. He did only give up 7 runs in 3 starts but also only threw for 17 innings. He struggled with command and putting guys away in some sense - that's what drove up his pitch counts, but he also didn't blow up because of it. And these were ATL, MIN, and STL so some good teams.  In his last start we saw a return to form (TBF against MIA) able to get out of whatever minor trouble he got himself into

Corbin - He's been a bit wild recently having three starts with 4+ walks in the last 4 games where he had four such starts in the 28 games before that.  Much like Strasburg though he worked out of trouble and never put the Nats out of the game, in part because no one hit him all that well. Minnesota did, but he didn't walk any of them so there does seem to be that trade off.  He is striking out a good deal now as well but also gives up more XBH than Stras despite getting hit less.  His last start he handed the Phillies.

Max - he's given up 2 long balls in each of the last two games and for the most part has been more hittable than you'd expect. Of course it's Max though so that's still not very hittable. He still is walking the least and striking out the most. In his last start yesterday, he looked alot like his old self... except for the homers.

There isn't a bad choice here. Even Max, who's been iffy, has given you 1 walk and 21 Ks over 12.2 in his last two starts. But if you order it I'd go Strasburg - Corbin - then Max. Given that the days line up it's seems like it's Stras's gig

BUT WAIT! They aren't pitching to a team in a vacuum they are pitching to the Brewers, maybe at home.  Is there any big splits we need to worry about?

Max v MIL 5/6  6 IP, 6 H 1ER 1BB 10K
Corbin v MIL 8/16   6IP, 7H 1ER, 1BB, 11K
Stras v MIL 5/7  6.2 IP, 6H 4ER, 2BB, 11K*

No real advantage - I suppose you like Corbin here a little better because it's the only one that's more recent but I'd say nothing telling here. (STL? Corbin bad in April good recently, Max ok early meh recently, Stras great early solid but short recently)

Max - a touch better away a bit wilder at home this year for some reason. Not much to go on here
Corbin - Corbin is MUCH better is DC.  a 1.97 ERA in DC a 4.18 ERA elsewhere. Practically unhittable at home (67 hits in 100.2 IP) with next to no homers (5) and great control (28BB).  Away he gets hit pretty well (95 hits in 97 IP) gives up bombs (16 homers) and his control is off (40BB).  I'd say this disqualifies Corbin from pitching in MIL (or STL) at all but maybe puts him as an interesting choice to work into a home WC
Stras - slightly better at home I guess? His HR rate favors away, walk rate favors home. Wouldn't make a decision based on this.

Milwuakees preferences?
A slightly better performance against righty starters than lefty.  Though with Yelich out that might even out more.
(STL has a harder time against righties) 

Basically all this points to the same place - Strasburg should start the WC.  If we could be sure in the next couple days the Nats would be hosting Milwaukee I could see Corbin as a better choice, but since we can't and have to think about the set-up over this weekend I think Strasburg is the only way to go.

*Odd line for so many runs. Three of those hits, one walk, and a HBP came in that 7th inning, which Dan Jennings and Justin Miller ensured all of those guys came in


Anonymous said...

Re-posting this from the last thread:

"Who is pitching better" is absolutely the right question to ask. So let's ask it, and see if we can answer it. Here's looking just at starts in September.

Pitcher A:

September - 4 starts, 24IP, 1-1, 2.63 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP, 9.75 K/9, 4.88 BB/9, 3 homers, .196 BABIP, 23.1% HR/FB.

Pitcher B:

September - 5 starts, 29.2IP, 2-2, 5.16 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 2.81 xFIP, 1.16 WHIP, 13.04 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 6 homers, .303 BABIP, 21.4% HR/FB.

Both have the same winning percentage, roughly the same IP per start, and virtually identical WHIPs, so that's a wash. Pitcher A has a much better ERA, but pitcher B has a much better FIP and xFIP. Pitcher B's K and BB numbers are dramatically better (which is what's driving the superior FIP, of course). Pitcher B gives up more homers because he gives up more fly balls, but more of Pitcher A's fly balls turn into homers. Pitcher A's BABIP is too low to be credible, so we have to assume his low ERA is being driven somewhat by good (and unsustainable) luck on batted balls turning into outs. Pitcher B's BABIP is perfectly normal, so we can't say his ERA is being driven by bad batted ball luck.

It sure looks to me like Pitcher B has performed better than Pitcher A more recently. Pitcher A's BB rate is probably the single most concerning number. Pitcher B is Max, of course, and Pitcher A is Stras. I would be happy to include more starts - it would certainly make Stras look better in an absolute sense. But it probably wouldn't make Stras look better than Max, because Max's overall 2019 stats are better.

Corbin doesn't belong in the conversation because he's simply not as good as Max or Stras. I'd consider starting him if there was a big difference between how Milwaukee did against lefties compared to righties (like the Dodgers in 2016), but I don't think there is.

Anonymous said...

Just for completeness, here are Corbin's stats using the same approach

September - 5 starts, 29.0 IP, 4-1, 2.48 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 1.38 WHIP, 11.48 K/9, 5.28 BB/9, 3 homers, .282 BABIP, 15.8% HR/FB

Anonymous said...

Bryce didn't just leave though. He went to the Phillies. A division rival. The team whose fans call our stadium Citizens Bank Park South. It's 100% petty to boo but I have no problems with it at all. Honestly, it hurt even more because of how much we loved the guy.

cass said...

Max is the best pitcher in baseball. He's going to start. Hardly worth debating since that's what the team is going to do. He will not pitch again in the regular season. Strasburg is set up to take his place in case of injury or to be available to piggyback in the WC game cause you have to win that game.

I get angry about Nats fans booing Bryce as well. It's pathetic. My view of fellow Nats fans has tanked and I think they're pathetic whiny soulless losers mostly. This fanbase used to be good but every year it's gotten worse. The RFK years were the best in terms of fans. 2010-2012 pretty good. It's gone downhill from there. Started with all the whining about Stras not being man enough or whatever hs people were saying. I used to look down on other fanbases for booing Bryce for 7 years for no reason and then the Nats fans other than me and a handful of others also turn out to be pathetic babies too. People need to grow up. But it's sports, so whatever, however you enjoy it. But you're all wrong. Maybe Nats fans are just far right radicals and all think employees should be slaves unable to choose who to work for? That might be it too.

The people the Nats fans should be booing over Harper leaving is the Lerners for not making a good offer. But no, Nats fans are too dumb for that.

NavyYardSteve said...

I've been leaning towards Stras starting, for a few reasons:
1. As Harper outlined, there isn't a runaway choice for any of the three to start based on stats and recent performance.
2. Stras has the best postseason pitcher the Nats have ever had.
3. I think I trust Max and Corbin coming out of the bullpen and pitching well than I do Stras. This is entirely based on my gut instinct.

Either way, the plan should be to limit the pitchers to Stras, Max, Corbin, Doo, Hudson, Sanchez. I mean, how do you feel about Suero or Rodney or Rainey in a high leverage situation? I think there's something there psychologically knowing that the Brewers have to go through the Nats' best pitchers to win the game.

Anonymous said...

I read this and all I can think is "never mess with a Sicilian when death is on the line."

I wish Bryce the best in his career. I enjoyed the irony of yesterday, but I think he genuinely wanted to have a full career in DC and it kind of sucks to see this happen. Sounds like Rendon is getting ready to jet too (what a great shadow PR campaign by Boras btw, kudos to him for getting Rendon a couple million more a year).

Win now baby.

King for a day said...

If I were manager and had the guys on board, I think I'd start with Stras, but be ready to deploy Max after Doo goes in at any point after Stras has batted once (barring an early exit due to injury or shelling).

If Stras is dealing and the team has built a lead...GREAT! Roll with Stras. Close it out with Doo and Hudson late. Hold breath. Advance.

But if we are in need of a professional hitter in Strasburg's second or third time through, it makes a ton of sense to use whomever of AsCab, Dozier, Adams, Zim or Kendrick that isn't starting and hopefully has a good matchup split. Doo would then replace Stras and take over the 5 or 6 spot in the lineup for one of our myriad right side infielders. Doo would pitch 1-2 innings based on need and/or lineup turnover, but as soon as you decide to do this, Max knows he is pitching in 1-2 innings - hopefully sooner. Get a MI bat in for Doo while hitting, and then Max takes over and the lineup of right side infielders gets it's next adjustment of the night. Max finishes it out or Hudson does. If we don't win doing that, it's not going to be due to approach. We'll have put many of our best pitchers out there.

Then we're set up to let Corbin take on the LA Lefties. And Sanchez will get game 2 out there, but then it lines up great with only Sherzer going on possible short rest, but at home. Stras in G4, then Corbin again if we have to or (get to) play game 5.

Oct 1 - WC Stras+
Oct 2 - Off
Oct 3 - G1 Corbin vs. Dodgers
Oct 4 - G2 Sanchez
Oct 5 - G3 Max
Oct 6 - G4 Stras
Oct 7 - Off
Oct 8 - G5 Corbin

Mythra said...

I'm in the jilted-ex category on Bryce, but getting over it. Next year he'll be in the Bryce-who? category.

As for the WC start, I think they should give it to Stras. Not because Max or Corbin are bad, but for one other reason. Stras has an opt-out this year, and maybe saying he is your guy right now in the win-or-go-home game gives the team a chance for him not to opt out. Maybe.

Give some of the guys like Spanky, Zim, Howie, Asdrubal, Rendon and Soto every other day off to rest for the next 2 games, then treat the CLE series like a playoff warm-up.

Just my 2 cents, which won't even get you a gumball anymore.

Max said...

I was at the game Monday night. I think the thing with Bryce is there are a few bad apples that make us all seem salty. I personally did not boo him (I'm happy for him that he got all of that cash from Philly, good for him!). There were only a few weirdos out there cursing at Harper and being really loud with their boos. The rest of the fans who booed seemed amused and decided to join in on the "fun".

@ Blogger Harper- why did you decide to blog about the Nats? I always assumed you did it because you lived in the DC area, but you said recently you did not. You're not a fan, and you don't live here, so why did the Nats peak your interest?

Sammy Kent said...

@Anonymous, It looks to me that pitcher A has performed better than pitcher B lately because I put less faith in numbers from ridiculous formulae than simple observation and end results. The complexity of sabermetric calculations doesn't make them inerringly accurate, reliable, or predictive despite the Holy-Scripture-like quality they have to the believers. You may buy into all that extracurricular statistical horsehockey vs. the tried and true 2.63 ERA vs a 5.16 ERA, or a W-L record, but I don't. I still believe in the KISS rule, even for baseball: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Anyone that thinks baseball or any other sport can be reduced to wholly objective and statistically foolproof judgment is an idiot. Harsh judgment, but sorry. IDIOT is the proper word. Even the most basic and simple baseball statistics are skewed by the human element and the whims of the baseball gods. The more variables you add to the equation, the more opportunities there are for the unpredictable factors to make themselves known. I would never doubt the usefulness of sabermetrics as a tool in the box. But only one of many tools. There is still a lot to be said for the eye test, the hunch, the intangibles, and yes, the statistics that the metricians try to say don't Wins, RBIs, and ERA. And sabermetrics, for darn sure, can't measure heart.

Sport is full of the unquantifiable, the ethereal, and the of those being that the Washington Nationals, for whatever reason, just seem to score more runs when certain pitchers are not on the mound. Another that certain otherwise nearly unhittable pitchers have a strange knack for giving up multi-run WTF dingers in games of enormous consequence. Another that despite all the statistical whatnot, and ever how it gets done, the 2019 Nats win more often when Strasburg pitches than they do when Scherzer pitches. And like it or not, the only stat that matters at the end of the day is whether it's a curly W or a big fat L.

In 2016 the SF Giants needed to sweep their hated rivals, the division champion LA Dodgers in the season's final series to make the playoffs. And they did it....because Bruce Bochy was smart enough to simply throw every gotdang left-handed pitcher he had at the Dodgers for three games. Forget managing by the metric system. The Dodgers sucked against lefties. In my mind it made a HUGE case for starting Gio Gonzalez in game 1 at home against LA in the division series. But no, the metrics said start Max. So Dusty started Max, even though the Dodgers had just come off a season-ending series against their biggest rival looking like donkeydoo against left-handed pitchers. All that resulted in was another big fat L for the franchise ace in a crucial game, and eventually a home split instead of potentially taking a 2-0 lead into the ravine. Dang, people, sometimes you gotta go with what your lying eyes are telling you instead of listening to those indisputable numbers that are never wrong.

All that said, I hope to heck Max pitches a great game, AND that the offense will actually provide some run support, because we all know he's almost certainly going to start. But I'd still prefer Stras on the mound this time.

Anonymous said...

Harper, I think it's hard for you to understand booing Bryce precisely because you don't live in DC and don't attend games at Nats Park. Philly fans are terrible (slightly, but meaningfully, more terrible than Mets fans), and it's incredibly frustrating to sit near them in our home park. The booing of Bryce has much more to do with Philly than it has to do with Bryce. If he went to the Giants or the Dodgers, you wouldn't hear very much of it. But he didn't; he went to Philly. I begrudge no person's decision to maximize salary. It's Bryce's right, and he exercised it (though I can question his decisionmaking given that he chose to take a worse deal to live in a third-tier American city for 13 years when he had a $310 million offer on the table to live in San Francisco).

I'm grateful for his contributions in DC. He was a model citizen, and he mostly played well and mostly played hard. And he gets extra points for doing a lot of it while he was 19-21, ages when a lot of us (including me) were majoring in doing really stupid shit. But now he plays for Philly, and I have to sit in the general vicinity of a bunch of sleeveless, liquored up mouth-breathers cooing about Bryce if I go to one of the ~10 games a year at Nats park that include the Phillies. If I feel like booing him because of that, I'm going to do it. This is different from guys like Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, or even Drew Storen, who all get standing ovations from me.

Ric said...

@NavyYardSteve said: "I think I trust Max and Corbin coming out of the bullpen and pitching well than I do Stras. This is entirely based on my gut instinct."

In his last postseason relief outing, Max took the loss. 1 IP, 3H, 1BB, 4 Runs.

In his previous postseason relief outing (with DET): 2 IP, 3H, 2BB, 1 ER.

In his first postseason relief outing (with DET): 1.1 IP, 2H, 0BB, 1 ER.

His postseason relief ERA is 10.80.

To be fair, I'm in the minority here. I think it is always a bad idea to bring in a starter for relief in the postseason. To me, it just gives a sense of desperation, and I think the team feels that.

G Cracka X said...

I was not happy at all that Bryce left for Philly, but I don't think its fair to hold it against him. He wanted the big contract. They offered the most, in terms of $s and years. He took it. I'm sure if the Nats matched the Phillies' offer, he would have stayed. When Bryce comes up to bat in a game I'm attending, I don't boo him. Now, if he strikes out, do I cheer? Oh yes!

On a related note, BxJ and I have fairly strongly supported Bryce's quality this year and haven't been hating on him. It looks like Bryce will generate surplus value in Year 1. Now, is that enough surplus to justify the contract? Probably not. But its too early to tell.

On the Nats and the playoffs, I see both sides. I remember going to the Nats-Dodgers September 2012 game where the Nats won (Drew Storen pitched the 9th; struck out Matt Kemp looking, I believe) and clinched at least a WC spot. And the team's reaction was tepid, because their real goal was the division.

OTOH, if the Nats win two more games, they'll be the first team in baseball history to go 19-31 or worse and finish with 90 wins. That would be remarkable. You're talking 102-win pace for roughly 70% of the season.

billyhacker said...

The off the field baseball stuff is the soap opera part of baseball that many fans obviously enjoy. Cabbage and dancing. Signing with the evil Phillies. Booing is a fan right. Philly fans booed Bryce at home! I boo'd Bryce in his first game back and I will continue to boo him (in part because I believe it gets in his head and I want Nats to win). I won't be rude to him because that would be the behavior of a Phillies fan. Applause and booing are both ancient parts of the game.

Natitude said...

Bryce who? He plays where?

Anonymous said...

Sammy, it would take too long to refute ALL the fallacies in your post, so I'm going to refute only some of them.

ERA is a formula and yet you think it sends a meaningful signal. So your problem is not with formulae, it's with some formulae but not others. ERA is a meaningful statistic (nobody would tell you that ERA is irrelevant), but it has problems, namely that it measures things other than a pitcher's performance, such as the quality of the defense behind him. FIP removes defense entirely, measuring only things that have nothing to do with defense - walks, strikeouts and homers. xFIP tries adjust for the outsize influence homers have on FIP by using the league-wide HR/FB rate as an input, rather than the pitcher's own results. All three are meaningful stats that tell you slightly different things, which is why I presented all of them.

But here's the thing: they are not equally useful to our exercise, which is to PROJECT the pitcher likely to perform the best on October 1, 2019. It is simply a fact that FIP does a better job predicting a pitcher's future ERA than ERA does. The correlation between xFIP and future ERA is even better (though the difference is not as large). And there are even more complicated measures that have even tighter correlations than xFIP, but the improvements are quite small.

Still, it would be incorrect to say that ERA is irrelevant, because we can't just say the difference between ERA and FIP or xFIP is a measure of the team's defense. Pitchers do have some control over the quality of contact against them so the ERA-FIP delta is not entirely explained by defense. W-L record for pitchers, on the other hand, is totally useless to the exercise of deciding whether one pitcher is better than another because it measures something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with pitcher performance: how many runs his own team scores. There's just no signal there. You assert that the Nats score more runs when certain pitchers are on the mound, to which I say: (1) oh yeah, show me; and (2) is it consistent year-to-year?

You also say "otherwise nearly unhittable pitchers have a strange knack for giving up multi-run WTF dingers in games of enormous consequence." I would rewrite this the following way: "In the universe of games Sammy Kent both remembers and considers 'important,' which is definitionally different from all games that might objectively be considered 'important,' he thinks but is probably wrong about one pitcher giving up more multi-run dingers than the other." I'm perfectly willing to believe that Scherzer gives up more homers in important games than Strasburg does. But you're going to have to prove it because over the course of their careers, Scherzer gives up fewer dingers/FB than Strasburg does. Using the word "gotdang" isn't going to help here.

But perhaps the biggest error in your comment is the idea that reviewing statistics requires you blindly to follow those statistics where they lead you. The stats presented do not guarantee that Max will perform better than Strasburg on October 1. They simply suggest that it's likely. There is a lot of other information that is relevant to the decision, including (a) how the pitcher is feeling health-wise, (b) how the pitcher thinks he performed in the past against the team he is facing, (c) what the catchers think, (d) any of a number of other factors.

The point of reviewing the stats is to "price" those other factors: how much do they have to matter to overcome any difference the stats reveal? If the statistical case is close, not much. If it's not close, then they have to matter a whole lot. For me, it would take a lot of confidence in unmeasurables (lest it is not clear, unmeasurables DO matter in my opinion) to overcome Scherzer's dramatic advantage in K/BB numbers compared to Stras and Corbin.

Kubla said...

My take on the bad start isn't "nobody believed in them." I would say that this makes it easier to chalk up the early swoon to injuries to the lineup. Even without Max and Doolittle, they mostly rolled through the post-ASB season. Sure, the bullpen got better, but not so much better that it alone could have made that big of a difference.

I'm also glad they became mild buyers rather than sellers. Picking up some useful bargain pieces like Cabrera and the grab bag of relievers probably led to enough an extra win or two which, if not be the difference in making the playoffs, made getting in a little more secure.

Ric said...

@BillyHacker said: "I boo'd Bryce in his first game back and I will continue to boo him (in part because I believe it gets in his head and I want Nats to win)."

It is just the opposite. Bryce thrives in such situations. He rises to occasions. He is (relatively) middling when there is nothing at stake.

Bryce is hitting better at Nationals Park this season than any other venue. 1.198 OPS. The boos don't get in his head. The boos motivate him.

(In that sense, I think Philadelphia was a good landing spot for him.)

Ric said...

@Max said: "Why did you decide to blog about the Nats? I always assumed you did it because you lived in the DC area, but you said recently you did not. You're not a fan, and you don't live here, so why did the Nats peak your interest?"

Not that he can't answer for himself, but as I recall... He's a Yankee fan. But years ago he saw that the Montreal Expos were the only MLB team without a blog. So he started one. When they changed over to the Nationals, he kept with it.

That's why this blog is good. It is a smart blog, because Harper doesn't go all fan boi and bandwagon. His objectiveness is why this blog works.

Ole PBN said...

I think I read that DM said the WC game is Max's. Not sure how I feel about that. I feel like who ever starts, then need to have a short leash because its all-hands on deck. Part of me is concerned if Max gets pulled early - what vibe does that send to our team. "Our best pitcher just got knocked out of the game?" Or, if Stras gets pulled early and in comes Max, that might be viewed as a boost for our team? Depends how people view player psychology.

I completely disagree with advocating for Max, Stras, or Corbin based on opt-out clauses, favoritism, or simply because "he's our ace." Whatever direction they go, I hope they thought long and hard about it, and ignored all the white noise like off season contract implications.

Harper said...

quick head poke in

Ana @ 7:56 - I can buy that we may be overrating Stras and underrating Max at the moment but I think September is too broad a time period. With more time (maybe tomorrow) I'd go back and do a weighted analysis 3x last start, 2x one before that and 1x one before that and see where things shake out. My guy says Stras will come out on top bc Max's HR rate will look a ton worse even if his K/BB peripherals look a lot better

Another way to think about it - Stras is the better bet to keep the game close, Max the better bet to dominate.

ric to max - that's pretty much right

Ric said...

@anonymous said "Though I can question his decision making given that he chose to take a worse deal to live in a third-tier American city for 13 years when he had a $310 million offer on the table to live in San Francisco."

It wasn't just a matter of $20 million. California's base sales tax rate of 7.25% is higher than that of any other state, and its top marginal income tax rate of 13.3% is the highest state income tax rate in the country. At that point you are talking at least $30 million more of a loss in value. Factor in how much it costs to purchase a house in SF compared to Philly, and you are talking millions more.

So the Philly contract has a value of approximately $70-100 million more than the SF offer.

John C. said...

On the players using the "no one believed in us" trope, they are absolutely correct. Because they are talking about when the team was 19-31. At that point the narrative was "fire everyone, blow up the team." There was a lot of it in in sportscasters, media (Barry Svrluga at least admits that he was wrong; most just pretend they didn't say anything), and God knows among the fans it was rampant. You could find some of it among the posters on this very site. Heck, the soulless automaton posted a "Trade Value Post" in late May anticipating that the Nats were about to blow up the team. The comment thread for that post is an awful lot of packing it in.

As for who should start, sure, try to make a strong decision. But remember that small sample size stats are pretty much useless for predicting future performance. There's simply too much noise and not enough signal. The one thing that is certain, is that if whatever decision they make doesn't work, then we will be here to call them all MORONS. And if it does work, we will ignore that and move on to what decisions they will have to make in the NLDS or we will be standing by ready to call them all MORONS.

It's an occupational hazard.

Anonymous said...

Ric, totally agree with your process to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the Philly and SF offers. Though I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion that the "real" difference means the Philly contract was worth $70-$100 million more, we can agree that we're talking a decent amount of money - at least $30 million and probably more.

But we also need to think about diminishing marginal returns. The "real" difference between $30 million and $0 million is much larger than the difference between $330 million and $300 million (or even $330 million and $280 million, if you think a larger delta is warranted). When starting from a floor that high, it's just inconceivable to me that someone would choose Philly over SF. The explanation, I think, is that Bryce wanted to set the record for the largest FA contract. If that priority leads you to choose Philly over SF when you are already guaranteed a massive payday, then it's probably a bad priority.

Anonymous said...

John C: "But remember that small sample size stats are pretty much useless for predicting future performance. There's simply too much noise and not enough signal."

I think this is mostly right. But where does it leave us? Using larger sample size stats, e.g., all of 2019, or 2018+2019, makes the case for Scherzer over Strasburg a lot stronger.

Harper: "Another way to think about it - Stras is the better bet to keep the game close, Max the better bet to dominate." I think this is a defensible take. But Stras's walks (and Corbin's) are more concerning to me than Max's dingers as a general matter.

Jay said...

Why are you guys arguing about Harper signing with SF or with Philly. Bryce wanted one thing and one thing only - the richest contract in baseball history. He wanted the highest total salary, which he got with $330 million. Also, he also wanted highest annual salary, which he did not get. Unfortunately for Bryce, that highest annual salary lasted all of 1 week thanks to Mike Trout. IMO, that also tells you how Bryce is viewed by people in the game (or at least by Trout). Bryce signs with Philly. Starts talking about how he "signed" for less so they could bring in Mike Trout. He talks about recruiting Trout. Starts to spin how he exited DC. Trout drops a big screw you on him and signs an extension with the Angels.

The Nats offered him 10/$300. Granted that was with deferrals, but they could have negotiated that down. Instead, Boras and Bryce responded with radio silence. Bryce's response was "how does that money help my family"? Really. You're going try to sound like you're poor to stay in DC?? I think Philly is part of it as well. It all adds up to Bryce being completely full of crap all of these years. Go back and read the articles when he first came up and said he wanted to be a one city guy, and he talked to Zimmerman about what it was like to play for one team for his entire career. All of it was garbage. That is why people boo. Harper tried to play it off like he was the victim in all of this and he went to the highest bidder all in effort to hit $330 million. That is his right to do that as a free agent. However, Nats fans also have a right to boo him for it.

I happen to agree with what Jay Z told Chris Paul, "Whether you sign for $200 million there or $120 million, or $150 million somewhere else. Nothing compares to the price of happiness." It's not all about the money. Don't get me wrong, money matters a lot. It is not the only thing. Don't sugarcoat what Bryce did.

Ric said...

Anonymous, I totally agree.

Bryce wanted the record for largest FA contract. If I was him, I'd have signed with SF. Barring that, I'd actually have taken LAD up on their two or three year offer. PHI would have been the third option.

This was made all-the-more tragic when Trout crushed the largest FA contract a scant three weeks later. As silly as it seems to feel sorry for someone who just signed a $330 million contract, Bryce just signed 13 years of his life away to a city that I don't think he cares that much for. He's a West Coast kid. Heck, if he wasn't going to get the record contract, I think he'd have preferred he took Washington's first offer, just to say he played his entire career with one team. He would forever be associated with Washington baseball.

DezoPenguin said...

Honestly, I wish that the WC was guaranteed to be at home because I'd say start Corbin because the Brewers are much worse against lefties, particularly with Yelich out of the lineup. Thames doesn't even play against lefties and he's one of their best supporting-cast hitters, Moustakas is worse against lefties, etc., and again, Corbin is now eleventh in *all of baseball* in fWAR. He is absolutely an ace and the fact he's our #3 starter says nothing except that our rotation is really good. Otherwise, I'm going to stay consistent with my last post and say that Strasburg gives us a hair better of a chance to win, and the rotation's lining up so that he'd pitch on normal rest, whereas if we want Max to pitch the WC then we need to have Ross pitch his game down the stretch.

As for Bryce, yeah, speaking as another doesn't-live-in-DC fan, I don't get the vitriol either. I don't want him to have superstar seasons (particularly right away) because it makes our FO look dumb for not bidding higher and I want to believe that the team I root for has a FO that makes good decisions, but there's nothing personal in it and I'm fine with "Bryce Harper, decent player" being a thing. I would have been OK with resigning Bryce and trading Eaton, but I also thought it was by no means an urgent decision for us, as the Soto-Robles-Eaton outfield was a darned good one and we had much bigger holes to fill at 1B/2B (decently done), SP (superbly done, as it turned out, at least for Year 1 of Corbin/Sanchez), and bullpen (...the less said the better). Whereas for Philadelphia, they went into the offseason with three sucking chest wounds in the OF and signing Bryce made perfect sense for them since Bryce could have put up a two-win season and still been two wins better than the guy he'd be replacing. At least two wins. It made more sense for them to spend more money, much as I'd have preferred him to not play against us year after year.

As for the Phillies team, I want them to suck on general principles regardless of who's playing for them just because they're a division rival.

Anonymous said...

@Jay I think people ignore the socioeconomic part of this. Harper did not grow up comfortably middle class like many Nats fans. His father sold belongs to pay bills. People who grow up financially insecure fear they won't be able to make ends meete, even if they become wealthy. There is also probably some pride for Harper,feeling his father was underpaid in society given how hard he worked any wanting to 'earn back" his father's fair share of wages. harper isn;t a good speaker Taht story wbout 'taking care of his family" was jsut a reporter taking advantage of knowing it blow up and create controversy.As an aside, I don;t why Harper keeps sitting down for interviews. They blow up in his face. Like his "baseball is tired" one.

I think he did want to spend his career here. He just followed the Boras negotiation strategy of not responding to a team's offer and trying to drum up a market. Boras always expected to be able to come back to the Nats at the end and negotiate. Instead, the Nats withdrew the offer and made a lesser one. Harper was seemingly misled by Boras, who never expected the Lerner's to move on. Boras is doing it now with Rendon. Boras did it with Scherzer. When Scherzer was with the Tigers, he named a price to "re-sign. Ownership met his offer, and he still turned it down ( after "radio-silence) Tigers owner and fans feel the same way about Scherzer as Nats fans feel about Harper.

DezoPenguin said...

Meanwhile, the Nats have decided it's more important to rest players than push as hard as possible for HFA, so it seems Rizzo and Davey read Harper, or at least think along the same lines--Turner and Rendon both getting days off today with Cabrera and Difo playing 3B/SS and Dozier at 2B. Hopefully Soto and Gomes can get some breaks down the stretch as well.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper (and G Cracka X) I think you’re actually not being generous enough towards Bryce. He was a 4-5 WAR player this year (roughly the same as Soto), and a top 5 player in MLB by win probability added. Now, that’s not a predictive stat, it’s retrospective....nevertheless, it means Bryce Harper helps his team win this year more almost any baseball player. To say “it’s not all Bryce’s fault” is crazy understatement. He had an excellent year. Not an MVP year like Rendon, but an excellent one. Arguably his best season besides 2015 (I say that because 2017 was cut short). Bryce had about the same OPS this year as Ronald Acuna Jr. He was great this year. The Phillies missed playoffs despite him. That’s a fact.

RE Bryce hatred, I’s irrational. And I’m speaking not only to fans but idiots like Boz who couldn’t resist taking a shot at Bryce as a teammate in his column today. What a child. Truly answer me this: What has Bryce done wrong besides (1) take the best contract offer, (2) help his new team win games, (3) boost his franchise’s 2019 attendance more than any player in MLB (something the Nats franchise could use by the way...memo to Lerners...maybe don’t let a second star walk to see what continually dwindling attendance looks like) and (4)...compliment the Nats organization yesterday in effusive terms after they eliminated him!?! (Listen to Baseball Tonight Podcast for recording).

Bryce is an electric, fun player. If you didn’t think that homer of Strickland wasn’t cool yesterday, you’re blinded by homer-ism. I really am at a loss for why people are such children. It’s fine to root for your team. But Jesus. You wanna blame somebody for Bryce leaving blame the Lerners.

@Harper Re the “nobody believed in us” frustration. With all due respect, this isn’t even worth mentioning—-as you say, every athletic team does it....I’ve never been a professional athlete, but it seems like you need to invent ways to motivate yourself to stay sharp over a long season. It’s why Michael Jordan used to literally make up imaginary slights from opposing players to fire himself up. Who gives a damn?

RE their bad start. Let’s not be simplistic analysts. Two things can be true. (1) their start sucked and they’re responsible for it. (2) following that, their resurgence to claw their way back to 90+ wins was uncommon on an historic level. What’s wrong with noting that? Nothing, as long as you’re not making believe it makes them better than a more consistently great team. Now, if you’re looking for a reason the Nats are actually better than their record and as good as the Braves, a better and semi valid reason their basically equal run differential. Suggests the Nats are competitive with Braves on a pure talent level, but the manager/bullpen deficit was the difference in the NL East.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper I agree re Stras. With this caveat. I disagree that Max can be more dominant, particularly post injury.... Since were talking playoffs, I refer you to Strasburg in 2017 vs Cubs. (14 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 22 Ks).

Another reason why not Corbin? How about he’s never pitched in postseason. Some people seem to get nerves. Put him in pen.

Anonymous said...


Harper's homer off Strickland was undeniably cool.

You're missing the boat on dominance, though. Of course Strasburg can be dominant. We can look at any of a number of starts over his career to see that, including the two starts in the playoffs that took place two years and fifty starts ago. The question is whether Max or Stras is *more* likely to be dominant on October 1. I don't think his two starts in October of 2017 (the G4 game is probably the "best" performance ever by a Nats starter given the importance of the game) have much to say about that. Why on earth would you think those 14 innings are more relevant than (1) ~the 400 innings Max has thrown since and (2) the 330 innings Strasburg has thrown since or (3) more recent and smaller slices of those samples? Of course the newer information over a larger sample is better. And it pretty clearly and unambiguously illustrates that Max is more dominant (and better) than Strasburg.

coolsny said...

@ Harper love the blog and the numbers and the soulless automaton stuff, but don't understand the saltiness around booing. re: others comments today about blaming the Lerners and not Bryce about leaving, and I blame them well.

but like, fans boo man. Bryce is a villain. how do you not understand why fans would boo, especially fans of a division rival? this is like, totally human nature. i understand the dislike of this phenomenon but not the surprise.

me personally, the guy is not likable and it's not all his fault, as he was propelled to stardom at such a young age and the pressure and expectations 100% stunted his emotional growth and he always came off as someone "trying" to be a certain way (not saying he was bad for the clubhouse or a bad teammate or bad person away from the cameras). the guy is a dork and a little overly obsessed with his looks, so of course he is a target for people's ire.

my personal boo with Harper is that I want Soto to be better, and I track both of their stats and want Soto to be the superior player, just like i want Soto to be the superior player vs. Acuna. so i say boo away! even though it seems not to work with Harper

only the most advanced humans, such as myself, root for their exes to have a good relationship post break cant expect it from most baseball fans!

Anonymous said...

Harper, come on. get over the Harper love. Harper got paid, that's what he wanted. He wanted to be paid as the best player ever. He has never been close to that. So the hubris involved there is a discussion for another time. Harper became a prima donna as a National. His level of hustle from his rookie season to his last year as a Nat was off putting to say the least. So should he be booed. Of course. Why not? He, and his agent tried to play the Nats. That's the game. The Lerner's were having none of it. Harper gave two damn's about the effect on the team his salary demands meant. The Nationals are a better team without him, clearly. Signing Harper meant no Corbin. No Corbin, the Nats don't smell the playoffs. It remains to be seen whether Rendon follows the same path. If Rendon wants to be paid as the best ever...bye.

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon. Roughly 97% of the crap in that comment are either wrong or subjective assumptions you’re making about Bryce Harper’s state of mind. It’s actually embarrassing. I don’t know where to start.

1. “Bryce Harper wanted to paid like the best player ever.” Crap. He’s not making best player money. Bryce is making 25 million per year. Do you know how many people make that? There are like 25+ players in baseball who make that. That’s not within shouting distance of best player money, which is Trout/Kershaw/ Arenado 30-40 AAV

2. “But at the time it was a record setting contract!” Right. Because of its length of 13 years. Because he hit free agency crazy early due to his extraordinary talent at a young age. Manny Machado also hit FA crazy early. It’s why he also made 300m, with a higher AAV than Bryce. (BTW he had a worse year than Bryce despite making more money—surprise! He also went where he got the most money.
3. So what we come down to is Bryce Harper took the most total money. status quo behavior for a human. Who wouldn’t want the most security and total dollars when you have the most leverage? The dudes dad worked at a steel mill dude.
4. So you’re pissy that he didn’t take a home town discount...which...nobody does. Nobody. “But it wasn’t a discount!” Crap. It was. With deferrals the value was about 200m. And you don’t know anything about “they could’ve negotiated!”

5. “He’s never been worth close to [what he was paid]!” Its a shocker....but swing and a miss. He has been worth 25m AAV. Harper has averaged 4-5 WAR/year. By market value that’s between 25-30 mil AAV. This year he was worth it. Actually he was worth far far far more due to the gigantic spike in ticket sales. So what in God’s name are u railing about?

Now let’s discuss your subjective aspersions. “He’s a prima Donna!” This is because...why? Because he plays with flair and has a magnetic personality and swagger? Thank god. Baseball desperately needs those people, and frankly it’s what made his signing make Phillies ticket sales go bananas.

“He doesn’t hustle!” if you’re the kind of person who gets furious when a star player who has had issues with injuries doesn’t kill himself running out grounders, fine. I’d prefer that over Bryce slipping on a wet bag and swinging the Nats chances in 2017.

“Harper gave two damns about the effect of his salary on other players.” I’m actually laughing right now. Are you suggesting players take less money in order to allow the teams billionaire owners to pay other players and stay under an imaginary cap?

Nats fans are salty that they never made a WS run with Bryce, and then he left because he’s a regular person who prefers to be paid the money that his talent and starpower is worth on the open market. So you take it out on Bryce and say he was some sort of imaginary force that made the clubhouse worse (zero evidence of this) and that by getting rid of him the Nats are better off. Guess what? They’re not. They’re not better off on the field (because Adam Eaton isn’t as good) and they’re not better off as a franchise (witness the gigantic drop in box office). “BUT THEY SPENT THAT MONEY MORE EFFECTIVELY ON CORBIN!” Hey. I have a radical idea. Try to escape the nonsense mental framework where there’s finite amount of money the Billionaire Lerners can spend.There’s no hard cap, and going past the luxury tax is the cost of a middle reliever. So no. They didn’t spent the resources more effectively. They just chose to limit their resources. And guess what? The MASN resolution won’t change their behavior. Because the Lerners want to be relevant, but they want to spend as little money as possible to do so.

So here’s the thing.
*Your facts on Harper and his salary are inaccurate in the extreme.
*You make mean spirited presumptions about Harper’s motivations they are based on diddly.
*Your analysis of Nats/Lerner decision making is deluded and based on goofy misconceptions.

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon. And re dominance. So you’re saying that Strasburg’s 2017 playoffs aren’t relevant to now. Ok. That’s a semi fair opinion. So let’s assess who is pitching better now. Um....Strasburg easily? His ERA is like 2 runs lower during the second half? So I don’t’re saying that Max has been more dominant while giving up 14 runs over his last starts and 6 home runs? Either the recent past is more relevant or things like playoffs 2017 are more relevant. I’m fine saying if we’re predicitng October 1 performance that we should go with whoever seems like they’re likely to be better. That’s OBVIOUSLY stras. Obviously. Max has literally been the Nats 4th best starting pitcher since getting injured.

Anonymous said...

BxJ, your comment on the pitchers is too stupid to respond to in detail. A lot of conclusory statements with no evidence. Maybe you’ll be more convincing if you use the word “obviously” a few more times. Stras has a better ERA but Max has a better FIP and xFIP. It’s defensible to prefer ERA to those other numbers, but it’s certainly not obvious. For me, the guy with 13 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 is more dominant than the guy with 9.75 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 if we’re looking at recent performance. But that’s just me.

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon. Thanks for the ad hominem attacks. It’s an honor to be lambasted with the fury you usually direct at departing free agents whom the Lerners refuse to pay. I notice you didn’t respond to any of the handful of ways I pointed out your Harper shrieks that have no basis in, u know, facts. Too bad.
Now, to your points. Its fine if you want to start Max because he’s had a better career. But starting him because he’s been “more dominant lately”.....i mean...nobody on this blog thinks Scherzer has pitched better than Strasburg since returning from injury except you. And the reason is because he’s alternated between mediocre performances against bad teams where his pitch count gets bloated and getting shelled with long balls by every decent lineup he faces, and sometimes by terrible lineups. The other day the Phillies waves the white flag and sat their stars. It was mostly subs and some AAAA hitters.... like Brad Miller, who hit batting practice bombs over the fence off Max. If Brad Miller is taking you deep in successive at bats, um, youre not dominating. Moreover, even against a terrible lineup like the one the Phillies threw out there, Max hasn’t sniffed the 7th inning since returning from injury August 22. Not once. He’s gone 6 IP or less in each of those 7 starts. Is that what you want in the WC game, with our bullpen? A guy struggling to get out of the 5th? Because xFIP doesn’t tell you anything about whether guys are pitching deep into games. Bottom line: We have 3 ace pitchers. I don’t want the one who hasn’t gotten past the 6th in SEVEN games to start. Whether its his stamina or ineffectiveness, or both, Max hasn’t been himself. Stras has. He’s been better down the stretch. That’s not really arguable, man. And yeah, does it matter that Max has never won a playoff game for this franchise and blown a Game 5 lead, while Strasburg has shined under max pressure? A little. Not as much as the last 1.5 months of Max giving up homers though. Signed, STUPID!

BxJaycobb said...

LOL. I’m sorry I’m still laughing at this gibberish (really try to think about the language and assertions’s quite a performance in illogical fandom):

“He, and his agent tried to play the Nats. That's the game. The Lerner's were having none of it. Harper gave two damn's about the effect on the team his salary demands meant. The Nationals are a better team without him, clearly. Signing Harper meant no Corbin. No Corbin, the Nats don't smell the playoffs.”

1. “He and his agent tried to play the Nats.”
The translation you’re looking for here is “tried to get the best contract.” (See capitalism for details.)

2. “The Lerners were having none of it!”
I love that this is written as if the Lerners out-smarted Boras in 3D chess or something. Meanwhile Phillies ticket sales went up 27% this year (most in MLB) and Nats decreased by 18% (4th worst drop). Nailed it Lerners!

3. “Harper didn’t give two damns about the effect his salary would have on the team.”,
This is actually my favorite part i think. Where Bryce is blamed for not becoming the first baseball player in history to sacrifice money so that the Nats billionaire owners can make believe their artificial budget is actually even smaller!

4. “The Nationals are a better team without him, clearly. Signing Harper meant no Corbin. No Corbin, the Nats don't smell the playoffs.”

I must have accidentally deleted the evidence. Nope! There is none. Um, Harper was worth over 4 WAR this year. About the same value as Soto. He had like the same OPS as Ronald Acuna Jr. He was top 5 in MLB in win probability added. Rendon would have been the only position player Nat clearly more valuable than him. And very obviously, Eaton (who he would have replaced) is not half as good. Plus the Nats could have dealt Eaton as an asset. More importantly though, this Corbin subbed in for Harper is delusion. The luxury tax is an excuse. It’s nothing. Going over it is the cost of like Kyle Barraclough. There are no finite resources. They could have had Bryce, Corbin, and pitching returned for Eaton. The reason they didn’t—make no mistake—is because the Lerners want to not spend money but be just good enough to satisfy the fan base. So “the Nats are better without him” is as wrong as a person can be.

Bryce Harper is probably going to hit 500 homers and possibly be in the Hall of Fame. He has 35 WAR and is 27. Most HOF outfielders have like 65. But let’s all make believe he was bad for the Nats despite all evidence to the contrary—nothing but winning teams since the day he arrived in 2012, and whisper about the imaginary impossible to prove or disprove “clubhouse effect” he had....which nobody seems to be able to back up with anything besides “it’s annoying when he flipped his hair.” Harper could have had a statue and given this young franchise an icon to build a legacy/identity around....instead of bleeding fans by the day. Instead the Lerners pinched their checkbooks. And they will do it again with Rendon. And I’m sure Anon will scream that selfish Rendon wanted to be paid what he was worth instead of taking a pay cut so we could buy more relievers.

I’m embarrassed to be a Nats fan when Harper stands in the outfield being showered with boos nonstop. It’s pathetic in the extreme.

Ole PBN said...

So. We're going to the postseason, and all Bx and an Anonymous poster want to bicker about is what Bryce Harper was thinking during last offseason. Really? How much more grieving does one need to go through in order to move on?

Bx, we know you've been a Bryce apologist from the start, and I'm not going to infer that you think the 2019 Nats were less fun to root for sans Bryce Harper. I personally loved this season because he wasn't around. I'm convinced that the chemistry we have now would not have existed if he was still here. Bryce was not the reason Philly didn't make the postseason, he did pretty well actually (remind anyone of Nats 2015?) Back then, he put a season for the ages and it was a SEASON TO FORGET for the rest of the team. Philly can have 13 2015's for all I care - eat your heart out.

Point is - if people argue that Bryce isn't worth $25M a year, why does someone feel the need to defend a Philadelphia Phillie to the bitter end? Where is your Nats fandom, boy?! Lol

Happy times ahead... let it go.

Ole PBN said...

This can be appropriately represented by one of my favorite Louis CK bits:

Of course Bryce Harper deserves whatever money he can get. It is his right! Of couurrssee. Of course. Wherever he signs, we should be happy for him! It's his right as an American citizen and represents the beauty of Free Agency. Of course! And, when he returns to DC, its the noble thing for us to praise him for his years of duty as a National, of course. Are we not grateful? Of cooouuurse we are. Of course.

But mayyyybe...

Maybe.... Bryce Harper is a bag of douche who signed mega millions to play for our biggest rival, and then cried about it when every DC fan wasn't happy for him. However hard he gets booed 9 times a year in DC, he gets it twice as bad in Philly when he strikes out following a homer in the previous at bat. He deserves every high and low he experiences because that is what he signed for.

PotomacFan said...

Enough about Bryce Harper. The Nationals are a wild card team, and the Phillies are not. End of story. We should be talking about the Brewers now.

Didn't anyone watch the game last night? Sanchez was terrific, again.

But the real highlight: Doolittle was lights out! He was throwing 94 - 95, at the top of the strike zone. Is he back? It looked like it last night. That would give the Nats very solid 8th and 9th inning pitchers for the WC game, and hopefully, the NLDS series.

Anonymous said...

Bx...point one you are wrong. Boras clearly stated Harper wanted to be the best paid player ever. That's fine but it doesn't mean the team has to pay it. Harper not running out a routine grounder is not what I'm talking about and you know it. As a season ticket holder I saw Harper that last year dogging it in right field too much to ignore it. Flair...don't care about it, means nothing to the game. That's your need Haper to toss his hair to fill fulfilled, have at it. The Lerner's made a business decision which improved the team, Bad Lerners in your opinion...that just makes you sound foolish. Hate the Lerner's all you want but being a Senators/Nationals fan all my life they are the first owners to bring a winning baseball team to D.C.

W. Patterson said...

Lots on Bryce, here. He's gone almost a year. The Phillies are out of it. Time to drop the subject.

Booing? I booed something in 3rd grade and had to write, 100 times, "I will not boo," or some such. Thank you, Mrs. Renders. I've not booed since.

What I want to know is when the Lerners are gonna open their damned wallets and sign Rendon? They waiting to see if he's any good, or something? Fer cryin' out loud!

Cal said...

Is it just me or is one of the Anonymous posters here plainly ssln under a new identity?

My take on Harper is that he was a great player for us, and fun to watch. He could have some annoying traits (helmet/cap “accidentally” flying off all the time, mouthing off in interviews, etc) but you have to remember that he came to the majors as a kid - when I was that age I was a total dick - and likely never got the chance to mature the way people might in other environments. I totally understood why fans of other teams hated him, but that’s been true of a lot of great players over the years.

He took the most money, and I don’t blame him for that. The Lerners put forward a crappy offer, and him leaving is totally their fault, but then again it’s their money and not mine.

But either way I’m over it, and pretty happy watching the team the way they are now. Like with all our former players I wish him all the best, except when he plays us.

I hope he has an all-star year every season and makes the Hall of Fame ... and I hope the Phillies suck every year and never make the playoffs again during his time there. He can be the big fish in a small pond, like Williams on the Red Sox or Bonds on the Giants.

And I couldn’t care less whether people boo him or not. I doubt he cares either.

Ric said...

"What I want to know is when the Lerners are gonna open their damned wallets and sign Rendon? They waiting to see if he's any good, or something? Fer cryin' out loud!"

That ship sailed months ago. No way Boras lets Rendon sign any offer by the Nationals now. His only thought is to test free agency. And at this point (one week left in the regular season) it would be foolish to do otherwise.

W. Patterson said...

@Ric - "No way Boras lets Rendon sign . . ." I recall Rendon saying that Boras worked for him, not vice versa. Have to see if that's really the case.

One hopes (well, I hope) that that ship hasn't really sailed. Of course, if it has then the Nats will go into rebuild mode and maybe be decent about the time I retire so my wife can really get me out of the house.

coolsny said...

Ya I don't think Rendon is signing here and I think that that is fine at this point...spend the money elsewhere. Rendon is only going to decline from this season, he probably won't repeat this season, and if he does, it will only be for next season. Then the defense will start to go and eventually the hitting, and then we will have another Zimmerman situation on our hands.

Don't make the mistake with Soto and sign him now, maybe even Robles too, follow the Braves model (I think Albies is to Robles as Acuna is to Soto).

As for the booing, jesus christ guys the guy gets paid more money in one season then i will make my whole life. he can deal with it. it's not lame to boo, fandom is literally thousands of years old. support the guy on your team, boo the opposition. i can't help but think there is a bit of virtue signaling going on here "oh i just want everyone to succeed i just love the sport." that's crazy, don't let nobody tell you you can't boo! that same energy is what makes fenway, citi, and yankee stadium so electric when their teams are in a high stakes game -

trust me, the fans who boo are the ones who buy tickets and scream their heads off in support of their team. just ask Rendon and Stras what kind of fans they would rather have...

Anonymous said...

I like Bryce Harper and I would have loved him signing here. He took more money to go elsewhere, great for him. Smart of him to play up to his current city's fans as his team faced getting left out of the playoffs.

Saying he's a major reason the box office went down this year is silly. IMO they went down because:
1. The team was average last year and ticket sales lag the record by a year
2. They started off bad which affected ticket sales and could never catch up despite the good run
3. Baseball is a sport primarily watched in person by aging folks who are starting to prefer watching it from home instead of going through the hassle and expense of seeing it in person

Because of #2, I expect there to be a bounceback next year. Because of #3, I expect ticket sales across the sport to continue to decline.

PotomacFan said...

Ticket sales also went down because some folks, possibly a few thousand, bought season tickets to guarantee good, "moderately" priced tickets to the Home Run Derby and All-Star game. I was one of those folks. I did not buy season tickets this year.

Ric said...

@W.Patterson: I didn't say "No way Boras lets Rendon sign... " I said "now" and "at this point."

Boras and Redon are going to test free agency. Period. That doesn't mean he won't resign with the Nationals. He very well may. But after the season. Not during the season.

@PotomaFan said "Ticket sales also went down because some folks, possibly a few thousand, bought season tickets to guarantee good, "moderately" priced tickets to the Home Run Derby and All-Star game."

This. Very much this. The Nationals heavily pitched "the only way to guarantee All-Star tickets" for a full two seasons before the All-Star Game. A huge drop off was obvious and inevitable.

@Anonymous: the only way there will be a bounce back next season is if the Nationals win the Division Series.

W. Patterson said...

@Ric - You're right. I missed the key word. My mistake.

Anonymous said...


The reason "virtue signaling" is treated with contempt is that actual virtuousness comes from doing the right thing when it is hard and requires sacrifice, and virtue signaling is way to try and appropriate the social goods that come from a virtuous life without earning them.

Let's say someone tips appropriately but exploits and cruelly exploits class structures in other ways -- maybe they're in real estate and specifically they buy up housing on the edges of gentrifying areas, drive up rents in order to push the people living there out and then combine units into larger luxury places. Virtue signaling is responding to someone who calls them out with the defense that "How dare you accuse me of not caring about poor people? You should know I'm a very generous tipper!"

Probably the most common example is the way a lot of white people respond to the idea because they are part of and affected by a racist system, they have a responsibility to do work to dismantle that system. (And I mean mostly white liberals here, because a lot white conservatives have become OK with it, and their emotional response when it comes up is often more sarcastic and trolling than actually angry. Conservatives don't have any emotional vulnerability on the issue. It's really the liberals that get all heated and then say things like "I voted for Obama!" which actually now that I think about it is very likely the single most common example of the phenomenon around.)

It sounds like you think virtue signaling is just not being an asshole. But what do I know? Words' meanings are always changing and I'm usually behind the times on that. Honestly, I'm still a little pissed that "selfie" is now used to describe pictures with multiple people in it.

All that aside though, your point about Stras and Rendon is interesting. You very well could be right that a lot of the players do prefer fans to engage in that way. I don't think I'm going to let that influence my behavior very much, but it's a much much better reason to boo Bryce than the claim that he deserves it. (Another better reason is Max's "It's kind of fun" from yesterday.)

Ole PBN said...

^^ ... um, what? This blog has apparently become a personal journal.